Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

New studies signal more positive news for Scotland’s economy – but firms want access to the single market

Keith Brown
Keith Brown

Scottish business is enjoying its longest run of expansion in nearly two-and-a-half years but Brexit is casting a dark shadow over future prospects, new studies show.

Bank of Scotland’s latest purchasing managers’ index – a measure of the month-on-month change in combined manufacturing and services output – highlights continued growth in June, although the pace was weaker than in May.

It also signals that companies across Scotland have seen increased employment numbers alongside growing new business and orders.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown hailed the findings as “a further vote of confidence” in the private sector north of the border, coming on the back of figures showing modest gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

He said: “While this is encouraging, Brexit uncertainty continues to cast a shadow over the future economic outlook, threatening jobs, investment and living standards.”

Last week’s GDP data from the Office for National Statistics showed growth of 0.8% in Scotland running at four times the UK figure, with Scottish unemployment also at a record low of 4%.

Mr Brown’s Brexit concerns are reflected in survey results today from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), showing a large majority of Scottish firms – many more in percentage terms than for the whole UK – want Britain to remain in the single market and customs union.

BCC’s poll of more than 2,400 businesspeople, including 445 in Scotland, found 61% of companies north of the border seeking continued EU single market access. The UK figure was 53%.

And more than two-thirds (68%) of UK respondents believed there should be a transition period of at least three years following the UK’s exit from the EU in March 2019.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron said: “Businesses value our trading links with the European Union, as they do with our other major trading partners, and this survey shows that businesses are serious about maintaining a relationship with Europe that continues to enable them to trade as easily as possible, with no financial tariffs and an absolute minimum of regulatory barriers.

“The EU may have fallen behind the rest of the world in terms of the value of Scotland’s exports but it remains a vital export destination, particularly as Scotland seeks to grow the number of businesses trading internationally.

“This survey also clearly shows that Scottish businesses do not want to be facing a cliff edge in two years’ time, when the UK will leave the EU.

“If Scotland and the UK’s economic needs are to be satisfied, then business must be listened to during these crucial (Brexit) negotiations.”

Bank of Scotland’s figures, while positive on many fronts, also reveal a deep-rooted malaise among businesses north of the border.

Confidence towards future growth prospects eased slightly in June, reflecting weaker sentiment in both manufacturing and services, the bank says.

In a separate survey, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found a majority of UK firms aimed to increase the number of highly skilled jobs in the next few years.

But nearly two-thirds (61%) of the 344 organisations questioned from all sectors of the economy, ranging from manufacturing to construction and professional services, feared there would be a lack of suitably qualified workers to fill them.

And 84% did not feel the quality of careers advice young people receive in schools was good enough.

“Companies aren’t asking teachers to do more,” CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie said yesterday, adding: “Schools need support to do this, from the long-awaited (UK Government) careers strategy … and businesses rolling up their sleeves and helping.”